Riverdale expands on the group’s superpowers in “Venomous”

Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred and Two: Death at a Funeral” -- Image Number: XXX -- Pictured: Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred and Two: Death at a Funeral” -- Image Number: XXX -- Pictured: Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale continues to expand on its inner circle’s superpowers with “Venomous.” Veronica Lodge got a small taste of her new ability due to her connection to “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” the library book she had never returned.

Veronica’s new abilities are far more fatal than what anyone else has possessed. Veronica’s lips, saliva, and sweat are toxic and can lead to death. Veronica’s abilities even resulted in Heraldo’s death. So, to avoid killing anyone, Veronica must keep a healthy distance. However, when her emotions get the best of her, Veronica’s toxin can still affect Reggie from several feet away, giving him a nose bleed.

But, while Veronica’s newfound powers prevent any close intimacy, she also finds herself immune to all other toxins and poisons after realizing that several shots of alcohol still found her feeling completely sober. Discovering that if she tries, Veronica has a chance to control her abilities gives her newfound confidence, as does one kiss with an invulnerable Archie, allowing Veronica’s last moment of intimacy to not be with Reggie Mantle.

Archie’s return to invulnerability is not a surprise, but he does go through desperate acts before achieving it. To overcome his weakness to palladium, Archie decides to wear his weakness around his neck as a way to become immune to its effects. When his initial attempt does not work, Cheryl suggests an alternate method to become immune through small doses over time.

However, that just allows Archie’s health issues to progress. He loses strength and density through his attempts to become immune, and Archie’s attempts could even kill him. But, Cheryl has a plan. By forging Archie, even though it could kill him, Archie could come out of the event once again impervious to pain. So, in the end, Archie is invulnerable once again while no longer losing his abilities to palladium.

“Venomous” also delivers a disturbing backstory for Betty, Alice, and Hal. Jughead puts his mindreading powers to use, diving into Betty’s subconscious when she asks him to find the moment the darkness begins. But, before he can see that, Jughead inadvertently takes a stroll down memory lane.

Jughead observes his and Betty’s history, including the very early moments leading into their high school romance. But, Betty encourages Jughead to go deeper to discover what they are looking for, and when he does, it may be more appalling than anticipated.

Betty’s dark, repressed subconscious brings her father back into the fold, back when things were a lot less complicated. Except, were they? In “Venomous,” it is shown that Hal Cooper had been an active murderer when Betty was a child and that he was grooming her to be a killer. It also questions how much Alice knew about what Hal was doing. Did she know Hal was the Black Hood? Was she aware that Hal was grooming Betty to be a killer?

Betty uses Jughead’s mindreading ability once again on her mother to get the answers to those questions. While asking Alice direct questions about their past with Hal, Jughead reads Alice’s mind to see Alice and Hal’s secret lies beneath their table.

The big surprise is a dead body. Hal had threatened Alice into helping him cover up a murder and hide the body under the floorboards. Although Alice knew that Hal was trying to do something with Betty, she also believed she could prevent Betty’s dark impulses from coming to light. Betty connects the reveal to Alice’s history of very controlling behavior toward her.

But, in another plot twist, Alice was hiding another secret all these years. She has the serial killer gene too. Will Alice Cooper become the next serial killer of Riverdale? Was there a point to bringing that element into the story for a narrative purpose other than to explain the plot hole of Betty and Charles sharing the serial killer gene when it was established Hal had it, and Alice claimed not to?

However, Jughead’s dive into Betty’s mind may have affected him more than anticipated. He replays his history with Betty in his mind and seems thrown by it. Are Jughead’s feelings for Betty resurfacing, or is it just a side effect of re-living such intimate moments?

As the group learns to control their superpowers, it lets them become stronger and more knowledgeable of their capabilities. Having the group spend time together shows the strength of their friendships. It proves they may be growing into an integral unit when the final battle against Percival truly comes. But, while “Venomous” addresses rivalries and alliances, it also teases more significant problems.

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